Naftali Bennett at cabinet meeting 370.
(photo credit: Alex Kolomoisky/Pool/Yediot Aharonot)
As a previous participant on a MASA-sponsored Israel program, I find the
behavior of the people who disrupted Economy and Trade Minister Naftali
Bennett’s keynote speech at the MASA event yesterday to be shameful,
disrespectful and unfortunate.
The disruption of Bennett’s speech brings
to light parallel techniques used by BDS (Boycotts Divestment and Sanctions)
members in South Africa; people who are not interested in dialogue but would
rather polarize people to take an anti-Israel stance.
As a student of the
University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, I have
experienced the Israel-Apartheid week (IAW) in which anti-Israel sentiment was
spewed from the mouths of anti-Israel lobbyists. On numerous occasions, events
and talks were disrupted in similar fashion. When seeing such videos or reading
such stories, I cannot help but draw comparisons and recall the doings of those
anti- Israel lobbyists.
The author of the article “Why I interrupted
Naftali Bennett’s speech,” Joshua Leifer, explains how the disruption of the
MASA event was successful as it generated debate and discussion after the event.
However, if one believes in generating discussion, one should engage with it in
a proper manner and should adopt the appropriate methods to get their opinion
across, rather than being “disrespectful” and “proud of it.”
Israel is an
extremely complex state that hosts a number of diverse opinions, which include
Jewish, Christian and Muslim opinions among others. Ultimately, all these
opinions serve as evidence to show that Israel does have issues and criticisms.
Israel is not perfect, and just like all states, it can and should be criticized
where necessary. When Jewish people across the world benefit from Israeli
technology, medicine, agriculture and education partly as a result of their
title of “Zionist” or “Jew” and then attempt to side with the policies of people
who are determined to seek Israel’s destruction, it is very hypocritical and
This group of individuals tried to confront moral issues
within the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and create a moral debate, but did so in
an immoral manner. If any of those demonstrators were sponsored by Masa, I urge
them to refund the money that was contributed toward helping them gain an Israel
experience. I fail to understand why these people feel it is more important to
demonstrate against a democratic state like Israel than against the mass human
rights violations that occur in other parts of the world such as Syria, Saudi
Arabia, Sudan, Yemen and many more.
To express different opinions is
deeply important. People have a right to voice their concerns and opinions, but
it needs to be done in the correct manner. My experience in the Betar youth
movement has taught me to be modest yet tenacious in my actions through Hadar
and Tagar. It is the responsibility of Jews and Jewish youth to support Israel
and aid it, rather than align themselves with people whose beliefs seek its
Israel protects Jews in Israel and abroad. It also protects
Israeli Arabs because they have full citizenship.
When I was volunteering
at a school in Jerusalem and teaching English to both Jewish and Arab Israelis,
I felt a sense of fulfilment and pride when I remembered the words of Ze’ev
Jabotinsky (Rosh Betar): “From the wealth of our land there shall prosper the
Arab, the Christian and the Jew.”
I am proud that there are Muslim,
Jewish, left-wing and right-wing opinions in the Israeli Knesset. It shows the
democracy and diversity of Israel. I hope that people will try and understand
the complexity of the situation and thus will make educated decisions with
Israel’s successful and safe future in mind. I also hope that people will
support and stand by Israel through its difficult times, just as Israel stands
with all Jews.
The writer is the national chairman of Betar